Same-Sex Couple’s Divorce Case Heads To Court After Judge Refuses To Recognize Marriage

BALTIMORE (WJZ)– A same-sex couple is fighting for a divorce in Maryland. But a judge says they’re not even married here. Now, they’re headed to the state’s highest court.

Weijia Jiang has more on the controversial case.

The couple meets every criteria required to get a divorce in Maryland, only they’re both women. And that’s why they say they’re being discriminated against.

Jessica Port, 29, got married four years ago.

“We were very much in love,” Port said.


“We realized we wanted very different things in life,” said Port.

But when Port filed for a divorce in October 2010, a Prince George’s County judge denied her.

You see, Port is married to a woman. She and her ex exchanged vows in California when same-sex marriage was legal.

The judge said they could not be divorced because he doesn’t consider them to be married, and said: “To recognize the alleged marriage would be contrary to the public policy of Maryland.”

At least four other same-sex couples who were married in other states have been granted a divorce in Maryland. The judge in Port’s case did not elaborate about how her divorce would violate public policy, nor did he offer a written opinion.

“Once the General Assembly has spoken, I believe they’ve made it clear they’re in favor of recognition of those marriages,” Leslie Stellman, an attorney at Hodes, Pessin & Katz, P.A., said.

Attorneys for Port’s ex– who also wants a divorce– say the state is on their side.

Last month, Gov. Martin O’Malley signed the Marriage Equality Act.

On Friday, they’ll try to overturn the divorce denial in Maryland’s highest court, pointing to dozens of cases where Maryland recognized marriages from other states that do not legally form here, like common law unions.

For Port it’s not only a legal matter, it’s an emotional one.

“I’m a homeowner in Maryland, I pay taxes in Maryland, I work in Maryland. I have every right to get a divorce like every other couple,” she said.

WJZ asked Port why she doesn’t go back to California to file for divorce. She says it’s not so simple and she has to file where she’s a resident, and her life is here in Maryland.

It will likely take several months before appellate judges make a ruling.

  • DUCK!

    ***bracing for the onslaught of silly comments***

    • Theresa

      So take your butts back to California and get a divorce! Sheeezz

      • Cheese Wonton

        You have to be a California resident and file in the Superior Court of the county you reside in. For them that means quitting jobs that pay money, leaving a house and establishing residence in California, and paying state taxes there. Not such a simple thing, is it?

      • PewPew

        Didn’t you even read the article? She explained why shouldn’t just go to CA.

      • Krystal

        You obviously cannot read…they have to be a resident of California to divorce there and they are NOT residents.

  • OmarOmar

    Ahh. The good old days. Didn’t hurt our parents one bit. Should be good enough for us too.

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  • Phil

    OK Duck…here ya go…”You can’t have your Kate, and Edith too”.

    • martin

      love it nice!

    • David's Buttercup

      OMG!!! That is the best comment I have ever heard!!! I am rolling on the floor right now!!

  • Sickofidiots

    @steve. For thousands of years humans left their less than perfect babies out to be eaten by predators. Do you think we should continue that tradition.

  • Ron

    Rather you agree with gay marriage or not, that is not the point. MD does not. These women went to CA to get married do to this. MD does not recognize them as married, and they know it.

    They are either trying to get MD to give them a divorce so they and others can use it against MD saying if they allow a divorce they accept gay marriage.

    Or, they are being whinny little…………. and should go back to CA to get a divorce just like they did to get married.

    They should grow up and stop being self entitled snots.

    • Krystal

      Maryland may not agree with it BUT Maryland has granted divorces to other gay couples. Why not this gay couple? That’s the problem and where the discrimination is being shown.

      • mike

        They have NOT divorced gay couples. Read the article.

    • vhg

      Self entitled? How dare they ask for a divorce!! Heterosexuals would NEVER do that.

    • Elspeth

      Except Ron, Maryland LAW says that same gender marriages preformed elsewhere can be DISOLVED in Maryland.

      Maybe because Maryland hates same gender marriage so much is why they have authorized it to be undone in their state even if they refuse to allow it to be preformed there.

      What some of you haters dont seem to understand, this judge has fast tracked gay marriage to the US Supreme Court. If the Maryland Supreme Court does not order the divorce, the couple has the right to take their case to the US Supreme Court because they are claiming an Equal Rights violation (other same gender couples have been granted divorce in Maryland as have hndreds of thousands of different gender couples and other types of marriage not otherwise recogonized in Maryland – such as common law marriages, which Maryland MUST recogonize through the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the federal Constitution, technically they have to recogonize this marriage too but Congress is pretending they don’t with DOMA which is unconstitutional, it just hasn’t gotten to the US Supreme Court yet.)

      Because there is an Equal Protection issue, if the State Supreme Court refuses to act, this case could be before the US Supreme Court by next October, beating the California Prop 8 cases.

  • lol

    Ok, so she said she has the right to get divorced like very other couple. Little does she know many couples never get divorced because they got married for the RIGHT reason, not because they thought they were trendy… Hope she learns her lesson about making rash decisions. Maybe she should travel to cali again to get divorced, probably exactly the same way they got married in the first place. Any way the only way to solve this whole thing is just to make everyone pay 20% income tax regardless of if you are married or not, then no one would care who marries who unless they are really in love and not just making a statement about being different!

    • openminded

      Actually this comment could not be more false. Divorce rates are 51% in the US. This shows that most people do not get married for the right reason and that more married couples get a divorce than stay married. Read your statistics before you post.

    • Krystal

      How do you know their reason for getting married? You must be the know-it-all everyone does not like.

    • Guest

      Is that why they have so many chapels in Vegas?

    • Elspeth

      So LOL, they cannot get divorced despite the law providing for their divorce and their cruddy luck getting a judge that shouldn’t be on the bench (if a judge refuses to apply the law because of his own personal views and then compounds it by refusing to do his legally mandated duty of writing a decision so the reviewing court can determine why the decision was made, the “judge” is UNFIT to be a judge in the first place) because YOU think that divorce is bad?

      Sure hope your spouse doesn ever cheat on you, beat on you, rape your children, or decide for themselves that they dont want to be married to YOUR pathetic ass and file for divorce on their own without your consent…because your consent is not needed.

      And what the heck does a 20% tax have to do with this…nut bag.

  • Cheese Wonton

    Where I work we make jokes about SMIBS, Southern Maryland Inbreds. Marriage in Maryland has more pressing problems than a gay divorce. Believe me.

    • NG


  • whodat?

    Since the union of two people is mainly in the minds of the people, but being a requirment of the law for lawful purposes of taxation and inheritance, this judge is an idiot. He should have noted, and been aware, that the state had already set the precedence of allowing the divorce. All he did was lose the fees that the state would have charged, and cast doubt on his ability to be a judge.

  • Really

    People get married in states they do not residents of all the time…the revolving door quicky marriage city of LAS VEGAS NV comes to mind. So any heterocouple that wants a divorce should have to go back to the state they were married in and be subjected to the divorce laws of that particular state. REALLY

  • tiredofhearingit

    They b*tch and moan to get married and now they b*tch and moan to get divorced. I guess marriage isn’t all you thought it would be. Lesson leared … be careful what you ask for!!

    • Elspeth

      By your logic we sould outlaw heterosexual marriage too.

      in fact, with heterosexual marriage divorce rates at about 50% for first marriages and 75% for seond marriages, one has to wonder just exactly what threat same gender marriage poses to the “family unit” that all these “marriage first” groups are spouting about. Seems to mee they should be lookign to outlaw either marriage altogether or outlaw divorce altogehter.

      • mamatat

        Exactly! Everyone should go to Arkansas, which has nearly a 60% divorce rate for first marriages, and easily 75%+ for second marriages (all of which are het-only, as those Bible Belt trogs just can’t stand “those gays”.

        Hypocrisy will be out-voted very soon, leaving the “family first” folks left flipping through their Bibles, wondering where they went wrong in legislating their moralily.

  • becky

    If same sex marriage isn’t legal or recognized there, then why would the judge issue a divorce? Got back to California and get your divorce and stop tieing up the legal system with something that is so stupid.

    • Elspeth

      Becky is so stupid if she cannot read the story first. Maryland LAW, as in passed by the elected officials of the state, provides for divorces in this situation.

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  • Elspeth

    Why are the replies not appearing below the comment to which they are replying to? Stoopid

  • Tricia

    If you have to be a California resident, then they are not legally married.theydont live inCalifornia.

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